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Knap of Howar,houses

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 59.3495 / 59°20'58"N

Longitude: -2.9106 / 2°54'37"W

OS Eastings: 348316

OS Northings: 1051811

OS Grid: HY483518

Mapcode National: GBR M450.WYP

Mapcode Global: XH8K9.D8LD

Entry Name: Knap of Howar,houses

Scheduled Date: 6 June 1994

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM90195

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: house

Location: Papa Westray

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Traditional County: Orkney


The monument consists of the lower walls and foundations of two Neolithic houses and an area around them. The monument has been excavated and is laid out for visitors. It is protected to seaward by a modern coast wall, and is in the care of the Secretary of State.

The two houses are irregular oblongs on plan, and lie side-by-side, elongated NW-SE. The houses stand to a height of just over 1.6m and their entrances, which point to the NW, are intact to lintel height. They are linked by a short passage. The larger house to the SW, measures 12.5m by 8.0m externally and is 9.5m by 4.7m internally. It has upright stone partitions making it into two compartments, and traces of post-holes suggest it had a low-pitched roof, most likely thatched.

A hearth is located in the inner part of the house, as is a stone-built cupboard. The smaller house proved to be slightly later in date than its neighbour. It measures 9.2m by 5.0m externally and is 7.5m by 3.2m internally. It also has upright stone partitions which divide it into three compartments, stone-built cupboards and had a hearth. There are deposits of midden material to the S of the houses.

The area to be scheduled is that contained within the boundary fence and bounded to seaward by the modern seawall. It measures a maximum of 33m N-S by 40m, to include the houses and an area around in which deposits associated with the construction and use of the houses may be expected to survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance, and arguably of international importance, as the earliest upstanding domestic structures so far identified in northern Europe. The comparison between Knap of Howar and other, slightly later, Neolithic settlements such as Skara Brae probably indicates a considerable degree of variability over space as much as over time, and emphasises the paucity of the research base for Neolithic settlement studies. As a field monument it is unique. Unexcavated areas around the houses offer the possibility of further examination of the domestic and agricultural economy of the earliest Neolithic inhabitants of Orkney.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as HY 45 SE 1.
Historic Environment Scotland Properties
Knap of Howar
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Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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